APACHE JUNCTION, AZ - Schools in Apache Junction have a brand new level of security after the school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with installing panic buttons in every school.
All six schools and two administration buildings will get two buttons. One will go in the front office, another will be installed somewhere on campus that might have less access to help in an emergency.
Staff will be trained when to hit the panic button and it will alert a security company that dispatches police or fire.
The school board started having a conversation about how to improve campus safety after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut last year. It had wanted to add security officers to each campus, but without enough in the budget, panic buttons appeared to be an effective option schools could afford.
"If there is desire to hurt, individuals are going to pursue a way to do that. We've got to find avenues to limit that opportunity or prevent that," said Apache Junction Superintendent Dr. Chad Wilson.
The panic buttons cost $2,000 to install and about $ 4,000 a year to operate. The school board approved the use of capital improvement funds to pay for it.
Wilson says if training with staff and local first responders goes well, the panic buttons could be in use in a matter of weeks.